Nuria Fernandez was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the 15th Administrator of the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) on June 10, 2021. She was previously appointed as Deputy Administrator and senior FTA official on January 20, 2021. With more than 35 years of experience, Fernandez made a name for herself as an inspiring leader in the transportation industry. She came to FTA after serving as General Manager and CEO of the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA), where she was responsible for 2,100 employees and oversaw projects, programs, and transit services that provide mobility solutions for more than two million people who live and work in the Silicon Valley.
Among the highlights of her tenure at VTA was the completion of the first Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) heavy rail service into Silicon Valley, a 10-mile, $3 billion line that opened to passenger service in June 2020. She also received federal approval in 2018 to extend the heavy rail service for another six miles. When completed in 2026, the heavy rail service will total 16 miles of rail and six stations that will provide transit alternatives for tens of thousands of commuters in and around the Silicon Valley.
Fernandez is also responsible for the creation of VTA’s Innovation Center, an incubator to encourage collaboration, test the latest technology, and imagine new ways to keep the valley moving forward by leveraging the expertise of Silicon Valley’s high-tech corporations and universities.
Prior to leading VTA, Fernandez served in leadership positions at some of the busiest transit agencies in America, including Chief Operating Officer of the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and Senior Vice President of Design and Construction for the Chicago Transit Authority and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, consecutively. She also served as Commissioner for the Chicago Department of Aviation, overseeing O’Hare and Midway Airports.
In 1997, Fernandez was appointed by President Bill Clinton as Acting Administrator of FTA, where she led the agency’s programs, including $1 billion in annual grant funding to local communities for planning, design, and construction of new and expanding rail and bus systems.
She served as Chair of the American Public Transportation Association from 2019-2020 and on the boards of the Mineta Transportation Institute, The Transportation Learning Center and on the Executive Committee of the Transportation Research Board.
Fernandez was born and raised in Panama City, Panama. She holds a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois, and an M.B.A. from Roosevelt University in Chicago.